Was vs Were: Difference between Them and How to correctly use them

The verb “was” is a past form of the “be” verb and is used as an auxiliary verb and as a main verb. It is a third-person singular simple past tense indicative of “be” and a first-person singular simple past tense indicative of “be.” Meanwhile, the verb “were” is a plural and the second-person singular of the past tense of “be” word. The word “were” is sometimes used instead of “was” in certain structures. 

The differences and comparisons for “was” and “were” are listed below. 

  • “Was” is used as a past tense. 
  • “Was” is used in the first-person singular past tense form of the verb be. 
  • “Was” is used in the third-person singular past tense form of the verb be. 
  • “Was” is used to indicate past events, prior conditions, or completed processes. 
  • “Was”  is used to talk about reality and known facts. 
  • “Were” is used in the past tense. 
  • “Were” is used in the third-person plural past tense (they and we).
  • “Were” is used in the second-person past tense (you). 
  • “Were” is used for wishful thinking. 
  • “Were” is used for statements that do not describe reality. 

The terms “was” and “were” must be used in the past tense. However, when it comes to their own usage, “was” vs. “were” are different. “Was” must be used in the first-person and third-person singular past. It must be used for statements of facts. Meanwhile, the verb ”were” must be used in the second-person singular and plural, and the first-person and third-person plural. It must be used in the subjunctive mood to indicate unreal or hypothetical statements. Some example sentences using ‘was” are “Johnny was a pilot in the Air Force.” “Mary was a former nurse at the most prestigious Hospital.” The example of “was” is used in singular past sentences. It states an event that was happened in the past. “They were out so late.” “If it were possible to solve a giant puzzle, their group would have done it.” On the other hand, the example sentences of the word “were” was used in third-person plural sentences. The event in the sentence describes something that has happened in the past.

What does “Was” Mean?

The term “was” is a part of the “be” verb. It is a past tense auxiliary verb and the main verb. The word “was” is used in the first-person singular (I) and the third-person singular (He, She, It). The origin history and etymology for “was” comes from an Old English “waes,” first-singular and third-singular past indicative of wesan to be;” akin to Old Norse, “vera to be,” “var was,” ”Sanskrit vast,” meaning he lives or dwells. The word “was” is one of the most common words being used in English. It ranks as one of the top 2 most commonly used words, together with the other “be” verb words. The importance of using the word “was” in people’s daily lives, especially when it comes to conversation, has become prominent already. Using proper words in a sentence, such as using “was”​​ in a past tense sentence, is very important because it delivers a message to a person indicating the event in the past. 

What are the sentence examples with “Was”?

Listed below are the example sentences for using the verb “was.” 

  • The water was dripping from the house and the essential files were wet and destroyed. 
  • He was among those people who saw Mary come out from the grocery store with tears of emotion in her eyes. ​​
  • She was invited as the guest speaker at the University’s graduation event. 
  • It was a house full of unknown people.
  • She was making noises in the public market. 

When to use the word “Was” in a sentence?

The word “was” is the past tense indicative form of the verb “to be,” which means “to exist or live.” Its form of “be” is used in the first-person singular (I) and third-person singular (He/She/It) forms of the sentence. The term “was” must be used when discussing past events and things that are already well known. The approach is exactly the same when it comes to employing the first-person or third-person singular. An illustration of its use is the sentence “I was at the grocery shop.” “He was at the supermarket.”  Another application for the word “was” is in the context of the past continuous tense, where it functions as an auxiliary verb with a single subject. The employment of an auxiliary verb in conjunction with another verb that comes after it in a phrase allows for the expression of a variety of tenses, aspects, moods, etc., and the usage of the past continuous tense refers to an object that was occurring in the past. To modify the previous example, “I was searching for some ingredients at the grocery store.”  The action of “searching” in the past is denoted by the auxiliary verb or helping verb known as “was,” and the word “was” is the term that is used to describe the action. The word “was” must only be used in the past tense when discussing activities or occurrences that took place in the past as its intended meaning. It is best to avoid employing it in other tenses, such as the present tense because doing so creates confusion and prevents writers from effectively conveying the meaning of the statement in question.

What is the difference between “You Was” and “You Were?

There is a big difference between the phrases “you was” and “you were.” The phrase “you was” is incorrect and must not be used in English. It is considered informal and nonstandard English, which means that it is used in some parts of the English world. The ​​phrase “you was” is commonly used in a conversation with close friends, family, etc. Meanwhile, the phrase “you were” is grammatically correct in English. “You were” is the second-person singular of the verb “to be” in the past simple tense. It is commonly used as the beginning of a sentence or clause. On top of that, there are no alternative phrases for “you was” and “you were” to use. 

What is the difference between “if I was” and “if I Were?

There is a huge difference between the phrases “if I was” and “if I were.” A speaker or writer must use “if I was” when referring to something that actually happened. Meanwhile, the use of “if I were” is for the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is used to talk about hypothetical situations or things that are contrary to facts. It means that the phrase “if I were” must only be used for something that a speaker or writer is wishing or imagining might have happened. A speaker is able to tell which one to use by whether the event being discussed is conditional and has already occurred, or whether it is still hypothetical at some point. 

What does “Were” Mean?

The word “were” is the past tense form of the verb “to be.” It is the past tense second-person singular, past tense plural, and past subjective. The past tense second-person singular refers to sentences where the subject is the singular (you). On the other hand, the past tense plural refers to sentences where the subject is a group of multiple subjects in first-person, second-person, or third-person. Plural pronouns include “we,” “they,” and the plural “you.” Meanwhile, the past subjective refers to sentences that express a hypothetical condition. Often, the past subjective clauses begin with a phrase like “if” or “as though.” On top of that, the word “were” originates from the Old English words “waere,” “waeron,” and “waeren.” It is akin to the word “var” in Old Norse, which was the past tense form of “vera,” which meant “to be.” These words evolved into the words “were” and “weren” in Middle English, and later became the word “were” speakers and writers use today. Moreover, the word “were” is a common English word. It has become an important word in the lives of people, especially when it comes to having a conversation. The verb “were” is essential to understanding and describing things that are hypothetical or fantastical in the subjunctive mood of sentences. It is for describing sentences that aren’t true yet or aren’t happening. 

What are the sentence examples with “Were”?

Listed below are examples of sentences using “were.”

  • All the houses in the city were made of glass, so clear and transparent that one could look through the walls as easily as through a window.
  • It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes. 
  • Your father was saying you all were going to the moon in a rocket ship made of metals they hadn’t even invented. 
  • Suddenly a man appeared through a hole in the roof next to the one they were on and stepped into plain view. 
  • Does he know you were there?

When to use the word “Were” in a sentence?

The word “were” is used for both the third-person plural past tense (they and we) and the second-person past tense (you). Among its many synonyms is the word “existed.” The verb “were” acts similar to “was” in the past indicative For example, “They were at the grocery store.” Moreover, the verb “were” acts as an auxiliary verb. To modify the previous example, “They were searching for ingredients at the grocery store.” To sum it all up, for past indicative second person and all plural forms, use “were.” For a hypothetical or fantastical subjunctive mood for both singular and plural forms, use “were.” On top of that, “were” should not be used in other tenses such as present tense because the word “were” is a past tense conjugation of “to be,” specifically the 2nd-person singular and 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-person plural ones.  

What are the synonyms of “Were”?

There are more than a hundred synonyms for the verb “were.” Some of them are, “prevail,” “endure,” “go on,” “persist,” “breathe,” “acted,” “exist,” “live,” etc. Some example sentences of the synonym of “were” are “My parents acted (were) deeply grieved and perplexed.” “Tears continued (were) streaming down her cheeks, but she glared at him.” On top of that, the word “were” has some variations when it comes to formulating a sentence. The word will depend on how the sentence is constructed. One of the variations that are commonly used in formulating a sentence is “weren’t.” The word “weren’t” is a contraction word for “were not,” meaning two words joined as one. Moreover, there are no other alternative phrases being used aside from the mentioned verbs or words. 

How is the pronunciation of “Was” and “Were”?

​​The verb “was” is pronounced as “w/ə/z” when the word is unstressed. The vowel sound changes to a schwa “ə” and the s in the word “was” is pronounced as “z.” Meanwhile, the verb “were” is pronounced as “wə” when the word is unstressed. The same thing as the verb “was,” except the vowel sound changes to a schwa “ə.” The letter “r” in the verb “were” is promoted as “er.” The verbs “was” and “were” are words that have soft letters but are pronounced differently. 

Comparison between “Was” and “Were”

Listed below is the table that shows the comparison between the verbs “was” and “were.”

The English WordsDefinitionContextExample Sentences
WasThe verb ”was” is used for statements of fact.The verb ​​”was” is used in the first and third-person singular past. She was at her grandmother’s house when the crime happened. 

She was driving an expensive car.
WereThe verb ”were” is used in the subjunctive mood to indicate unreal or hypothetical statements. The verb ”were” is used in the second-person singular and plural and in the first and third-person plural.If she were a rich woman, she would make more charitable donations. 

She acts as if she were a queen.

Why are “Was” and “Were” misused and interchangeably in English?

The verbs “was” and “were” are commonly misused and interchangeable words in English. The main reason for that is because these verbs are both used in the past tense. Most speakers and writers have been using these verbs in either formal or informal conversations, which leads to incorrect use of these verbs, especially for non-native speakers. The use of “was” and “were” does not result in any confusion in terms of the way the words are pronounced, spelled, or typed. The use of “was” and “were” is perplexing because they are both used in the past tense and are frequently used interchangeably. Having said that, there are circumstances in which these words, depending on the construction and structure of the sentences, are not able to be used. These circumstances include talking about reality and the subjunctive mood. The solution to avoid confusion is to remember that when it comes to events that are realistic, the verb ”was” must be used. Meanwhile, when it comes to imagination or wishful thinking, the verb ”were” must be used. Another thing to consider is to remember that “was” is the 1st person singular past tense form of the verb “to be”, and the 3rd person/ singular past tense form of the verb “to be”. Meanwhile, the verb “were” is the 2nd person singular and plural past tense form of the verb “to be.”

Are “Was” and “Were” in the most commonly misused English words?

Yes, the verbs “was” and “were” are one of the most commonly misused English words. Among other misused English words, the verbs “was” and “were” generate much confusion because both verbs are past tense forms of “to be.” Sometimes, the misused English words “was” is used instead of “were”, and sometimes the verb “were” is used instead of “was.” However, there is very much distinction between the two to avoid confusion. The verb “was” is used as past tense indicative form of “to be” and is used in the first-person singular (I) and the third-person singular (he/she/it). In addition, the verb “was” must be used when talking about reality and known facts that happened in the past. Meanwhile, the verb “were” is the singular past tense of “to be” and is used for both the third-person plural past tense (they and we) and the second-person past tense (you). 

What are the other similar Misused Word Pairs like “Were” and “Was” in English?

Listed below are the other similar word pair like the verb “was” and “were.”

  • “Above” vs. “Over”: The word “above” and “over” are similar to the misused words “was” and “were” in English. They are similar to the words “was” and “were” as both words have different functions and meanings in regard to structuring a sentence. The words “above” and “over” are both prepositions and adverbs which are used to describe the position of any person or object, and it discusses measurements; a level that is higher than another level on a scale. However, the word “over” expresses the location precisely, in the sense that it indicates the movements of the object from one side to another.
  • “Between” vs “Among”: The word “between” and “among” are the same as the misused words “was” and “were” in English, mainly because they have different functions and definitions when it comes to sentencing forming. The word “between” is used when referring to one-to-one relationships. Meanwhile, the word “among” is used among cases of non-specific relationships involving more than two objects or persons.
  • “Been” vs. “Gone”: The word “been” and “gone” is similar to the misused words “was” and “were” in English. They are similar to the words “was” and “were” because they have distinct functions and definitions when used in constructing a sentence. The word “been” is used as the past participle of the verb “be,” while the word “gone” is used as the past participle of the verb “go.”
  • “All ready” vs. “Already”: The word “All ready” and “already” are similar to the misused words “was” and “were” in English, mainly because they have different functions and definitions when it is used to structure a sentence. The word “all ready” is a phrase that means “completely prepared.” Whereas, the word “already” is an adverb used for talking about something that has happened before now or before a particular time in the past. 
  • “Especially” vs. “Specially”:  The word “especially” and “specially” are the same as the misused words “was” and “were” in English. They are similar to the words “was” and ”were” as they have different functions and definitions when it is used in a sentence. The word “especially” is a common adverb that means particularly, exceptionally, or above all to signify one person or thing among others. Meanwhile, the word “specially” is another adverb that means particularly. However, there is a condition. It is being used for a specific or special purpose of something.

What are the things should a content writer consider in using the word ”Was” and “Were”?

There are factors and things that content must consider when using the word “was” and “were.” One of which is the use of past indicative or past subjunctive tenses. The past indicative is used for ordinary objective statements or questions, and the past subjunctive is used for imaginary or hypothetical statements or questions. Another thing to consider is the use of the subject. The “to be” verb in the past indicative, depends on the subject to conjugate. The verb “was” is a past tense indicative form of the “to be” verb and is used in the first-person singular (I) and the third-person singular (he/she/it). Use the past indicative “was” when talking about reality and known facts. Another way of using the “was” verb is as an auxiliary verb. An auxiliary verb is used with another verb that follows it in the sentence to express different tenses, aspects, moods, etc. Meanwhile, the verb “were” is used for both the third-person plural past tense (they and we) and the second-person past tense (you). One thing to consider when using the verb “were” is to remember the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is the opposite of indicative, and it’s all about things that are unreal or conditional. 

Can content writers use “Was” and “Were” in one sentence?

No, a content writer is not able to use the verbs “was” and “were” in one sentence because both verbs have different functions in the sentence. It becomes grammatically incorrect when both verbs will be used in the same sentence. The message of the sentence will become unclear and oftentimes, the listener or reader will get confused about it. The verb “was” is used for real events that happened in the past or known facts. Meanwhile, the use of the verb “were” is more on the subjunctive mood, which is in the form of wishful thinking. The most commonly used verb among the two in a sentence is the verb “was” because it is used to state a fact about the events that happened in the past. It is most commonly used, especially when it comes to a conversation type of content. 

How do Content Writers use “Was” and “Were” in their articles?

The content writers use the verbs “was” and “were” in their article to indicate past events, specifically when talking about history, or previous events that happened in the past. The “were” verb is being used as a past indicative instead of a subjunctive because when it comes to writing an article, facts must be given and not wishful thoughts. Aside from that, an article is commonly written in past tense forms which why writers have been commonly used the verbs “was” and “were” in creating a content. On top of that, it is very important, especially for content writers to know the difference between the verb “was” and “were” because it indicates the connection between time periods or the exact time an activity occurred. It is where it underlines the importance of English grammar. The use of correct grammar makes the content writing effective and trustworthy. The right usage of these verbs helps to anchor the listener to understand the meaning behind the article. 

Do Content Writers use “Was” and “Were” in a wrong way?

No, professional content writers do not use the verbs “was” and “were” incorrectly. Professional writers are able to grasp more than enough knowledge about what to use when to use, and how to use verbs, tenses, and grammar. There is a high probable percentage for beginners. However, it is very basic that everyone, especially content writers must know because it makes their content accurate, trustworthy, and reliable source for the readers. Furthermore, to avoid using these verbs incorrectly, proofreading is very important before publishing the content. 

Do Misused Words such as “Were” and “Was” affect SEO and UX?

Poor usage of words, poor grammar, wrongly misused words and spelled incorrectly look unprofessional for content. Not only will these issues cause poor responses, but they will impact the SEO hard way. It will impact the company’s bounce rate, which hurts SEO long-term if a visitor is not finding what they are looking for. It is very essential to make sure that all the work in writing content is accurate; it includes backlinks in the articles. Providing clean, error-free content to the readers and ensuring that the backlinks are credible is crucial for search engine optimization (SEO) longevity. 

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